What’s for dinner?

December 28, 2012 | Greg Dodge

The water boils with activity as four mergansers dive for fish.

The small island that is directly off the boardwalk where that western red cedar structure makes a left hand turn on its way to the bear overlook is a hub of activity during at least part of each day. Fish are obviously congregated among the roots and tangle of branches under the water there.

A cram of shiners.

There are often mergansers fishing in this spot and it is easily viewed from the boardwalk as you descend. It’s also far enough away from the boardwalk so that the ducks are not spooked by passersby.

The fishing doesn’t appear to be duck soup though. The fish are not as crammed in as they are along the west shoreline of the Wetlands, as in the photo at right. I don’t see a fish in the bill of every merg that surfaces from a dive. No, the birds have to work for their meals here.

The mergansers aren’t always successful in their dives. None of these ducks surfaced with a fish.

The fish are surely down below. The ducks wouldn’t waste their time and energy working this spot as they do if there weren’t fish beneath them. And, they keep coming back. So, keep an eye out for the mergansers the next time you descend into the “Wild.”

By the way, there were 19 mergs in the Wetlands yesterday (12/27). That’s the highest count yet!

Enjoy.

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